Rev. William J. Kelly, 89, pastor emeritus of St. Edmund Church in Oak Park died on December 28, 2009, at his home. He was born on December 2, 1920, in Chicago. He graduated from St. Mel Parish School, Quigley High School and Mundelein Seminary. His ordination to the priesthood was on May 8, 1948. Among his parish assignments, he was pastor at St. Edmund from 1975 to 1987 and associate pastor from 1954 to 1963, serving under the legendary Monsignor Code.
Father Kelly was also at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Oak Park, where he celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest. The following is a farewell to St. Edmund parish at his retirement in 1987:
“My dear Friends, (Msgr. Code use to ask me: How do you know that They are your Friends?) Well anyway, My Dear Ones. The time has come to say good-bye. But it is not a time to be maudlin. The time I have spent here holds many memories, and the good ones far outweigh the bad.
“I have smiled, laughed and cried with you as together we experienced birth, growth and death. Over half of my priesthood has been spent with you and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. Besides our gala today so many beautiful, thoughtful, generous gestures have been made by the children and various organizations that I feel embarrassed but deeply grateful. Well – What are you going to do? Well – I don’t know exactly! I’ll be with my sister and niece for the time being. They live in Cicero, so I won’t be far away. Then depending on how I feel – the old arthritis, sciatica and blood pressure give me a hard time! – I’ll plot out the rest of my life. With few exceptions, I have received so much love and acceptance, that I shall never forget or cease to love you.”
Father Kelly was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Winifred (nee Conway) Kelly; his sister, Virginia Jones; his brother, Ralph Kelly. He was the uncle and granduncle of many. Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Tuesday, Jan. 5, at St. Edmund. Private interment is at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.
Memorials to St. Edmund School, 200 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302 are appreciated. Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park.